The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins meet up on Sunday night at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh for the second of two games. The Penguins struck first with a 4-3 win in a shootout on Friday night. With the win, the Penguins advanced to 3-2-0 and six points on the season. It’s much too early to say where the Penguins are headed, likely not deep in the postseason, but they’ve been in much better form after a slow start.
The Penguins lost their first two games, with losses against the Flyers, 6-3 and 5-2, but the Pens fired back with two extra time wins over the Capitals, and then another against the Rangers. Living on the edge and needing overtime and shootouts to pick up two points isn’t ideal, but the Penguins will take it and move on. I’d say that the Rangers are off to a disappointing start out of the gate in the 2020-21 season.
There isn’t much time for the Rangers, and other teams, to mess around with a bad start. It’s a shortened regular season, so there are going to be less opportunities to make up for a slow start. The Rangers are expecting to do big things and progress this season. They didn’t bring in Artemi Panarin to be losers. As Pavel Buchnevich and Kaapo Kakko develop, on paper, the Rangers should be a tough out for opponents.
However, games aren’t played on paper, and sometimes things don’t go according to plan. I feel confident about the Rangers going on a run, though don’t know if it’s going to be enough down the stretch to top the elite teams. The Rangers split against the Islanders in their first two games, and then a 4-3 loss against the Devils and 4-3 shootout loss most recently against the Pens. Head below for our free Rangers vs. Penguins pick on January 24, 2021.
New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Betting Odds:
Rangers vs. Penguins Prediction:
The Rangers signed Panarin to a big seven-year deal in 2019 in an effort to push the Rangers forward. If this doesn’t work out, then it’s going to be a big flop for the Rangers. Panarin reached a career-high last season with 32 goals and 63 assists. He bested his previous career-high of 87 points in his final year with the Blue Jackets in 2018-19. Panarin is also off to a sharp start in 2020-21. He has scored 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points through four games, so don’t look at blaming Panarin. The Rangers have netted 2.8 goals and conceded the same with 2.8 goals against per game.
25-year-old goaltender Igor Shesterkin is in his first full season on the main roster with the Rangers. He is sharing time between the pipes with Alexandar Georgiev. The expectation was for the Rangers to deal Georgiev, but with Henrik Lundqvist gone, they opted to go with a tandem between the two youngsters Shesterkin and Georgiev, at least for now. Shesterkin has posted a 2.94 GAA and 0.899 save percentage through three appearances, while 24-year-old Georgiev owns a 2.40 GAA and 0.907 save percentage.
Shesterkin has more upside, but we’ll see what Georgiev can do to prove his worth as a starter. Matt Murray is no longer with the Penguins, so the luxury of going to Murray when Tristan Jarry was struggling, or vice versa, is not an option in Pittsburgh. Jarry has been off to a rocky start between the pipes.
It’s not time to give up on him, it is far too early for that, but Jarry has to find a groove. Jarry has posted a 5.29 GAA and 0.821 save percentage through three outings. Casey DeSmith has been better, with a 2.76 GAA and 0.871 save percentage, but I think he’s better positioned as a backup.
Overall, the Pens have allowed 4.2 goals per game for 28th in the NHL. Fortunately, the offence has been alive with 3.2 goals scored per game. It’s typically entertaining when the Rangers and Penguins meet. Note that the OVER has gone 9-1 in their last ten, with an average of 7.6 goals scored through those ten games. I’d look at the OVER in what looks like another 4-3 final score between these two clubs.